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soldiers who led military expeditions in the Americas

Hernan Cortes

Spanish conquistador who defeated the Aztecs and conquered Mexico

Moctezuma II

Emperor of Mexico's Aztec Empire

Francisco Pizarro

the Spanish conquistador who conquered the Incas

Junipero Serra

Spanish missionary who founded the first Spanish missions in California.

encomienda system

gave settlers the right to tax local Native Americans or to make them work. In exchange, these settlers were supposed to protect the Native American people and convert them to Christianity

Bartolome de las Casas

Spanish priest who defended Native Americans' rights.


large farms that usually specialized in growing one kind of crop for profit

Juan Ponce de Leon

searched present-day Florida for a magical Fountain of Youth

Hernando de Soto

traveled through Florida and North Carolina in 1539

Francisco Vasquez de Coronado

explored the area stretching from present-day New Mexico to Kansas, searching for gold

Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo

sailed along the coast of present-day California; gave Spain a claim to the Pacific Coast of North America

El Camino Real

"the Royal Road" built by the Spanish to connect some of the scattered communities of New Spain


a type of settlement in New Spain which served as tradind posts and, sometimes, centers of government


a type of settlement in New Spain started by priests to convert American Indians to Catholicism


military bases built in New Spain to protect towns and missions

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